Google Algorithm Updates
Search engine optimization can have a huge impact on your business’ marketing results. It’s estimated that 89 percent of marketers around the world credit their SEO strategies with higher search rankings, more website traffic and increased lead generation.
If SEO is part of your strategy for being successful online, here are three Google algorithm updates you need to know about to keep up with recent changes:
RankBrain is the latest algorithm update to Google’s ranking system. It’s a machine learning system, kind of like artificial intelligence (AI), that looks at queries to understand users’ intent and then finds content to match.
Search Engine Land reported that RankBrain is now being used to handle every search Google receives, which makes this update important for every website on the internet.
Here’s how it works: If you search for “the guy in into the wild,” you get results for Wikipedia pages about the film and about Christopher McCandless. Google looks at the entire query and understands that you’re looking for information about the actor or character in the film. Even though you didn’t search for keywords like “movie,” or “film,” or “actor” or “character,” or even “man,” it can provide a comprehensive answer to a vague question.
In terms of commercial queries, businesses might find exact-match keywords are less important. With BrainRank, searches for “New York’s top fitness coaches” and another for “best personal trainers in NYC” might get the same set of results with the same exact links. Google understands that while the wording is different, the user intent is the same. This searcher wants a personal trainer. Then it serves up the most authoritative results it has on file with the strongest ranking signals for this query – not necessarily the pages that have the exact keywords on them.
What does this mean for marketers? For now, not much. At this year’s SMX Advanced keynote speech, Google’s Gary Illyes told Search Engine Land Managing Editor Danny Sullivan that there is no way to optimize against it.
The best course of action is to stay focused on creating high-quality content for your customers that will attract links organically. According to Google, content and links are still the two most important factors it looks at when assigning rankings.
2. Mobile-friendly Reboot
In May, Google Webmaster John Mueller announced the search engine had officially rolled out updates to its mobile-friendly search algorithm. This update increases the effect of the same algorithm that was introduced last year to reward sites that function well on mobile devices, and punish those that don’t.
Things like page speed, layout, and easy navigation now have a greater impact on where your site ranks in mobile results. And there are theories that these signals could ultimately influence your overall rankings on desktop devices, as well.
Google’s idea is that people should have access to relevant, high-quality information regardless of the device they use when they search.
If your site is already optimized for mobile users, you shouldn’t be impacted by this algorithm update. However, if you’re not sure how well your website performs on mobile devices, here are two resources you can use to conduct an analysis:
Google introduced Hummingbird in 2013, and it has continued to have a ripple effect on the search world. Hummingbird was an important update because it was the biggest change in Google’s overall ranking system since the introduction of Caffeine back in 2010. Every time a person looks for information on the search engine, Hummingbird processes the query. This algorithm generates every SERP.
The big deal about Hummingbird is its ability to generate answers to complex queries very quickly. For the first time, a user could search for a question – not a keyword – and get a relevant answer. For example, you can type “How big is the Eiffel Tower?” into the search bar, and Google will show an Info Card with the relevant information. In the past, you would have needed to search for “Eiffel Tower height,” and it would find a page with those keywords on it.
This update forced marketers to start thinking beyond keywords, and instead, focus on creating content that answers questions. The focus shifted from optimizing for search bots to optimizing for the customers you want to attract.
As Google rolls out new algorithm updates, it’s apparent that SEO isn’t getting easier. But in some ways, it is becoming simpler. These days, success is about creating good information and getting that information in front of the people searching for it.
If you have questions about the Google algorithm updates and how they work, contact us. We can talk you through some marketing strategies that will improve your SEO and get better results from your website.